The families who provide each ABC student with his own home experience are families who reside in the Amherst area. The Host Family Program establishes a link between ABC and community members. Students are provided with another “home,” an alternative place to relax, socialize and study. They are also given the opportunity to forge positive personal relationships with members of the community they might not have met otherwise. Reciprocally, host families derive the satisfaction of interacting with talented young men who have both a lot to offer and to learn from in these broadened social contacts.
The student/host family relationship is intended to be as informal as possible. Host families should not feel obligated to constantly shower the student with gifts, entertainment, or out-of-the-ordinary privileges. On most occasions, it is sufficient to have the students participate in normal family activities. A quiet evening at home is often a welcome change from everyday life in the ABC house. ABC students have varying needs just as host families have varying interests; therefore, the key is to work out a mutually rewarding, amiable relationship. The host family weekend offers an opportunity to share everything from a quiet evening at home, to attendance at concerts, movies, and other activities that may interest students and families.
The Board has established a schedule of monthly host family weekends. These begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday (usually the first Friday of each month except September and June). Students are expected to return between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. (Study hours begin at 7 PM.) Students must return no later than 9:00 p.m. Also, host family weekends are a must, because they offer the students an alternative community experience, and because they also offer the Resident Directors a much-needed break.
All rules ordinarily governing ABC students are applicable while the students are with their host families. Specifically, this applies to curfew and as well as the prohibition toward the use of alcoholic beverages and controlled drugs, as well as the prohibition against operating any motor vehicles. It is expected that students will comply with the wishes of their host families in matters generally related to their behavior. It is also part of the host families’ responsibility to be sure an adult is present during the student’s visit.
Host families are not limited to the designated weekend for contact with students and are encouraged, with the approval of the Resident Directors, to make other arrangements depending on the desires and needs of each student and his host family. Host families are especially encouraged to support their student “sons” with their academic and extra-curricular activities and as they plan for college and beyond.
A successful host family program is a necessary and enriching component of the total ABC program. Lasting friendships have been established through this program, and it is our wish that such a proven benefit will continue to be an integral part of the Amherst ABC program.
Interested in learning more about becoming a host parent/host family? There are no “requirements,” i.e., family size, age of children, etc. Successful host families have been parents with an empty nest and parents with young children, as well as parents with children currently in the secondary schools. Contact Wendy Kohler, President of the Amherst A Better Chance Board of Directors at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 413-250-0091.